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Hands-on with Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

As Glazer drives through the carnage the pair duck down the first slip road and head down into the city. A pair of bikers charge but some well-aimed shotgun blasts introduce them to the tarmac fast, and just as Lynch begins to catch up with Glazer’s vehicle a cement truck hits it head-on, prompting a ‘Tap a to rescue’ mini-game. Once plucked from the wreckage Glazer is in your protection, and Lynch chooses to grab a nearby enemy and use him as a human shield. After Kane mops up the rest of the attackers Lynch duly executes his victim with a shot to the cranium (again, bringing about the pixelated face overlay) and pulls everybody into a nearby parking lot.

On the second floor they’re attacked again, and this time Lynch can make better use of the environment. After working his way up to one of the lot’s concrete pillars he lifts a fire extinguisher off the wall and tosses it towards a huddle of enemies. His first shot automatically locks onto the spiralling canister, sending shards of highly accelerated metal ploughing into the bodies of everybody cowering behind cover. When the foam cloud clears it’s easy to mow down the fools who are still standing, bringing the level to a close.

Chapter four is next and we’re handed the pad (though not before we see that Story Mode and Arcade Mode are on the main menu) as Lynch and Kane are rudely interrupted during their dinner. Trapped behind a sturdy counter at the back of a restaurant the two need to blast away bamboo walls to get clear shots. There are roughly ten attackers in all, and ammunition runs dry long before they’re all down.

In certain situations tapping right on the D-Pad focuses the camera on points of interest, we’re told. We try. There are none here. Pressing down on the same D-Pad, however, is helpful. The button immediately highlights every single weapon in the area, letting Lynch see which weapons his adversaries have dropped and where. With forever dwindling supplies he’ll need to scavenge what he can find, and the ability to see these guns happily eliminates hapless body searches.

The firefight itself is acceptable. Both here in the restaurant and then later on in a courtyard outside, combat is solid but unspectacular. Guns feel powerful, enemies drop when they should and, while fiddly at first, lock-to-cover works well. We especially like the blood splats on the camera when we take a hit, and the ‘down-but-not-out’ mechanic which sees Lynch knocked to the floor and into a one-hit-KO state when on the receiving end of a good shot. Don’t expect anything remarkable, though. Genre-changer this isn’t: not by a long shot.

As the level nears its end we find ourselves out on the city’s streets once more. Innocents scatter quickly, but those in cars are trapped and when we duck behind the boot of a taxi the driver is riddled with bullets – thanks to a group of trigger happy cops. Blindfiring the shotgun takes out all rushing policemen, and a handy balcony lets us climb above the street and rain down fire from above. Unlike partners in recent co-op shooters, Kane seems to hold his own in single-player. Even though IO are focusing on co-op play, they haven’t borked the solo experience.

Overall, it’s an improvement. The game is already more exhilarating than the first Kane & Lynch, and news that the superb Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode will be returning along with new modes should be welcomed with open arms. But while our hands-on time was fun, it wasn’t enough to dislodge our burning question: where on earth is Agent 47, and how long before we get the new Hitman game? As promising as Kane & Lynch 2 may be, it’s not the IO title we’re aching for.

May 29, 2010